The Fate of Pakistan’s 50-110 Nuclear Weapons: Some May Already Have Been Stolen

November 26th, 2007 - by admin

The Harry Brunser Report & Inder Malhotra / Navhind – 2007-11-26 22:31:58

Pakistan: At Least Six — maybe Ten — Nuclear Cores Stolen
Harry Brunser Report

(November 25, 2007) — The current situation in Pakistan as of November 21, 2007, is roughly this: Desperate to hang on to power at any cost mainly because of his access to unlimited and uncontrolled US cash gifts, General Pervez Musharraf is refusing to stand down on his draconian declaration of martial law in Pakistan. Threats and pleadings from Washington result in vague assurances of “coming elections” but there has been no action on Musharraf’s part to defuse what is a very serious problem.

The Islamic fundamentalists on his borders with Afghanistan are growing stronger and as the Pakistani army is being used to control internal dissents, are moving into territory once considered securely in the hands of that organization. Growing public outrage at the crackdown pales into insignificance in comparison with the hyper-critical situation with Pakistan’s nuclear arsenal.

True, the domestic crisis is masking the really critical issue: Nobody in the American security community seems to have considered the possibility that someone with access to the nuclear cores could abscond with two or three cores quite successfully, by replacing them with spheres of the same size machined from depleted uranium, of which latter material the USA has used literally hundreds of tons as 50-caliber ammunition and anti-tank rounds in Iraq and Kosovo.

Depleted uranium ammunition is considered “harmless” by the USA and is extremely loosely controlled. Anyone with military connections could probably easily obtain several hundred pounds of this material in the form of DU ammunition, and re-machine it into metal spheres perfectly mimicking, in size, appearance, and weight, the real atomic cores. All that remains is to substitute the DU spheres for the HEU spheres during an inspection and tallying process.

We do not know Pakistan’s monitoring procedures, which are surely highly secret, but certainly such inspections must be performed quite regularly, most probably by two, or less likely three people, and would present an easy opportunity for substitution when a colleague is distracted or has his back turned. If the inspections consisted merely of a numerical count, and did not include testing with a Geiger counter (which is unlikely, except very occasionally to ensure the core had not deteriorated) the substitution could go unnoticed for years.

This scenario should cause an immense furor, when you publicly claim that such a thing has actually happened. Not only might this conceivably have happened in Pakistan, but anywhere that nuclear cores are stored. Every nuclear power as a result will be soiling themselves and scrambling to test their thousands of stored cores. However, since Pakistan is swarming with Islamic crazies, even among its top scientists, it is most terrifying to contemplate this having happened there.

All of this having been said, we have it on very reliable information that at least six nuclear cores have been taken and had substitutes installed in their place. This has happened within the past two and a half months.

Although we are aware of this, we do not know who took them (though it had to be done with high-level military cooperation) and we do not know what the thieves are going to do with them. Our sources indicate that on a scale of ten, nine indicates an attack on India, probably the huge marketplace in Delhi.

Naturally, we cannot inform India of this because, if we plan any military action in Pakistan (which is now being very seriously considered), we will need India for a forwarding base. For this reason, we have lied to India and assured them that we have taken custody of all the atomic weapons.

What we did not tell them is that six of the cores have been taken and we have no idea where they are, who took them, or what they plan to do with them. Given that very high-level Pakistani military personnel had to have been involved, their cover-up is intense and, to date, we have been unable to penetrate their security. Outward friendliness is the watchword but secret plotting is the actuality.

US On Pak Nukes: A Phony Alarm
Inder Malhotra / Navhind

(November 24, 2007) — America’s repeated “appeals-cum-warnings” to the Pakistani President, General Prevez Musharraf, to lift the emergency, reinstate the Supreme Court he had summarily dismissed, hold demonstrably free and fair elections, and thus restore democracy have become nothing more than cries in the wilderness. Thanks to the packed and pliant apex court, he has got all he had wanted.

Nor, after the United States President, Mr George W Bush’s extraordinary approbation of Gen Musharraf as a “democrat at heart”, does Washington wish to do anything to impede the “re-elected” Pakistani president’s dubious game plan.

However, there is nothing spurious about the US’ grave concern about the Pakistani nuclear arsenal. In the words of Stratfor (short for Strategy Forecaster Inc.), a Washington-based think tank having close links with the Pentagon, Pakistani nuclear weapons are keeping the US policy makers “awake at night”. They are sleepless because they are scared. They don’t know how to save Pakistani nuclear weapons – estimated at anything between 50 and 110 – from falling into the hands of jihadi terrorists.

All this, one might say, is old hat and known across the globe. The only new element in the situation is that, for the first time in nearly a quarter of a century, some (though not all) members of the American strategic community have begun openly to admit what they had brushed under the carpet all these years. “America’s own nuclear chickens are coming home to roost”, commented Mr George Perkovich of the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace and author of a book on India’s nuclear bomb, during a talk show.

Other commentators declared more forthrightly that for the sake of “short-term gains of getting Pakistan’s cooperation in fighting the Soviets in Afghanistan in the Eighties, we have created a Frankenstein’s Monster …. This is a problem that should have been solved in the past. Nothing can be done about it now”.

Yet there is no dearth of policy prescriptions by nuclear experts. In ‘The New York Times’ of November 18, Mr Frederick Kagan and Mr Michael O’Hanlon – the first a former military bureaucrat at the Pentagon who had a lot to do with the formulation of the “neoconservative” policy on Iraq, and the second — a young and prolific security analyst at Brookings — went so far as to advocate “military action” to take over Pakistani nuclear arsenal and making it “safe”.

There was an immediate outcry of protest, some surprise that ‘The Times’ should have published such an article. Enraged commentators said, “To take over the Pakistani nuclear arsenal you would have to send a million soldiers. Where would you get them from”?

Interestingly, the issue of ‘The Times’ that carried the bellicose article, also published a news item by its own reporters to the effect that over the last four years the US had spent $100 million to cooperate with Pakistan, under a secret scheme, to make the nuclear weapons of Pakistan safe from “falling into wrong hands” but had denied Islamabad some state-of-the-art technologies that could have helped.

The prestigious newspaper frankly admitted that it had sat on this story for three years at the request of the Bush administration but now found it necessary to go public. The administration was not averse to publication but had refused to discuss the issue. Islamabad also has maintained silence.

Stratfor claims that soon after 9/11, Washington had given Islamabad “an ultimatum” that if Pakistan did not allow the United States to “control its nuclear facilities”, the US would be left with no other option but to “destroy these facilities, if necessary with Indian cooperation”. The think tank adds that the American demand was accepted though Gen Musharraf emphatically denies this for “obvious reasons”. Many American sources dispute this.

They accept that the US has had limited access to some Pakistani nuclear installations, including laboratories and Pakistanis have had training in America in improving the security of nuclear weapons. But the US has at best only limited knowledge of the locations at which the Pakistani nuclear weapons have been spread out. Moreover, the Pakistani army can move around its strategic assets. In any case, the bottom line is that any action that is seen to be an infraction of Pakistan’s sovereignty would have precisely the opposite of the desired objective.

All of a sudden a large number of influential Americans have started criticizing the Bush administration for its “stark failure” to secure from “much-pampered Musharraf” direct access to the most notorious Pakistani nuclear scientist, A Q Khan, who is the world’s biggest nuclear proliferator.

Ironically, on this score, the most outspoken has been Mr John Bolton, a “neocon” to the core, who was the undersecretary for arms control in the state department and later the ambassador to the United Nations. He is demanding that America must get the custody of Khan who, though nominally under house arrest, lives in luxury and is revered as a national hero.

By sheer coincidence not one but three books by American authors have appeared in the midst of the current agonizing that expose American “deception” and “duplicity” far more trenchantly than before and in great detail. The most important of these books is ‘Deception: Pakistan, the United States and the Secret Trade in Nuclear Weapons’ by Mr Adrian Levy and Ms Catherine Scot-Clark. The titles of the other two are also self-explanatory: ‘The Nuclear Jihadist and America’ and the ‘Islamic Bomb: The Deadly Compromise.’

The main merit of these books, especially of ‘Deception’ is that, with inevitably differing emphasis, they reach roughly the same conclusions from which western sources and Pakistani authorities of all hues have been shying away.

First, that A Q Khan could not and did not act alone. Successive military chiefs and government leaders colluded in, or at least overlooked, his activities that earned him the nickname “Nuclear Walmart” that was coined, incidentally, by the director-general of the International Atomic Energy Agency, Mr Mohammed El Baradei. From this it follows that neither Gen Musharraf — who is personally involved — nor any other Pakistani leader would permit the Americans to interrogate Khan even in Pakistan leave alone outside.

For, he could spill the beans. Strangely, the books do not examine Ms Benazir Bhutto’s role. As prime minister of her country in the Nineties, she had visited North Korea at a time when A Q Khan was travelling there frequently. North Korea bartered its missiles for nuclear technology Khan had stolen from Europe.

The second incontrovertible conclusion these three books reach damns the United States and Britain for being accomplices of Pakistan despite their rhetoric about non-proliferation. Their intelligence agencies, authors of ‘Deception’ hammer home, knew a lot about A Q Khan’s nefarious and dangerous activities long before “this bitter egomaniacal physicists” was able to sell nuclear technologies to Iran, Libya and North Korea, but did absolutely nothing to stop him.

Former US president Jimmy Carter was the first to know what was afoot. Both he and successive presidents indulged in “massive deception” to let Pakistan go ahead with bomb building. On the burning issue of the day, how to prevent Islamic extremists from laying their hands on Pakistan’s nukes, the books offer no hope at all.

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